Mental illnesses are taking a toll on the Canadian economy to the tune of $20.7 billion, with the cost expected to increase at a rate of close to 2 percent every year, according to a study by the Conference Board of Canada.
The study, funded by international research-based pharmaceutical company Lundbeck Canada, says the cost is incurred by the effect mental illnesses have in reducing the number of workers available in the labour force.
“When workers have poor mental health, they have a lessened capacity to perform to their utmost. Sometimes workers with mental illnesses drop out of the workforce completely,” said Diana MacKay, director of education, health, and immigration with the Conference Board of Canada (CBoC).
The CBoC considers the six most common mental illnesses in its study, including depression, dysthymia, bipolar disorder, social phobia, panic disorder, and agoraphobia. If it weren’t for these illnesses, close to 452,000 more workers could be participating in the Canadian labour force this year.
With the current rate of increase in the number of people suffering from these mental illnesses at 1.9 percent each year, the cost to the economy could rise to $29.1 billion per year by 2030.
“If employers can be active in helping people remain functional at work, then everyone stands to gain—the individuals who are affected, firms, and the Canadian economy as a whole,” said Karla Thorpe, CBoC director of leadership and human resources.
The study did not include the costs of patient care, insurance for employers, services in communities, and many intangible costs for the affected individuals and their families in the estimates.
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